All posts by tialas2014

Threshold Concepts and Information Literacy

After a day of being introduced to the RSD framework, Jessy Polzer (UW- Stout’s Instruction/Reference librarian) talks to participants of the Student Research Skills symposium about Information Literacy, Information Literacy standards, and Threshold Concepts (

Jessy provided information about students’ and teachers’ misconceptions related to information literacy and the need to be aware of, and teach to, misconceptions about information such as:

  • Google is my research tool
  • Blogs, wikipedia, and the like should NEVER be used (depending on the purpose of the research question they may be viable sources)
  • Information on websites with .edu or .org is always credible

Jesse followed this with an example of how a teacher might help students better understand a process related to picking suitable sources that helped answer their research question and move beyond the general guidelines typically posted for source analysis.   Well done Jessy!  Thank you!

Jessy Dec2015 Trans CncptPost

Student Research Skill Symposium

We did it!  Stout’s Research Skill Symposium is underway.    John Willison led us through an exercise that introduced us to the different facets of research.  His example modeled how we might introduce the research skills to our students.  Participants are currently involved in one of two concurrent sessions.  Dorothy Missingham is leading a group through the process of optimizing the RSD into the Problem Solving Pentagon.  Other participants are familiarizing themselves with the RSD framework in a modified geocaching/infocaching activity in the library.  It is great to have everyone here and participating.  Don’t forget to visit for further updates!

Willison and Missingham from Adelaide Australia to present RSD at Stout’s December 3 & 4 Symposium – Join us!!

Dr. John Willison and his colleague Dorothy Missingham are coming from Adelaide, Australia to lead UW-Stout’s Research Skills Symposium on December 3 & 4, 2015.  Interactive sessions will be led by Willison, Missingham and UW-Stout faculty who have experience integrating the RSD framework into their courses.  We are expecting to have a lot of fun in interactive sessions, discussions, student presentations, and poster sessions.  Don’t miss this rare opportunity to work with the pros who developed the RSD framework ( and work to apply the RSD Framework to your courses as part of sound pedagogical practices.

Please help spread the word by downloading, printing and posting the flyer RSD Symposium Flyer

For registration and details please go to:

We are looking forward to seeing you there!


Prior Knowledge, Knowledge Organization, RSD and Students

Ambrose et al. talk about students’ prior knowledge impacting their learning.  I was thinking about this today as I started my RSD research project in my classes.  I am investigating the impacts of explicitly versus implicitly discussing class assignments’ relation to the RSD framework in my classes.  I want to look at the difference in students’ attitudes toward research and the impact on research-related assignments that occur within the context of my teaching.  Earlier in the semester I introduced the RSD Framework to two sets of students.  I walked both sections through the RSD Framework and provided an example of how the RSD Framework was applied.  Today I followed up with a question asking students how a particular assignment correlated with the RSD.  In both cases I had silence, blank stares, some students not recalling I had handed out the RSD Framework or that they had completed an introductory assignment using the framework.  A discussion regarding what level of the RSD Framework the assignment was aligned to revealed a misconception about the levels of autonomy.  In the assignment, I generated the way students recorded information in a chart as well as laid out step-by-step how to proceed through the assignment.  Many students identified this assignment as Level 2 research (which I can agree with) because there was some flexibility regarding sites used for finding information and the use of technology to find information.  However, some students saw their ability to go online and use the Internet  to answer the question as a level 4 research.  From the conversation in class it seemed that there was not a lot of thought given to the credibility of the sources used.  There is a misconception regarding the idea of “initiative” and their willingness to go explore as they wanted to and the idea that the research question itself was designed by someone else.  The second misconception was the idea of problem solving.  Students were able to create a mind map that synthesized elements of their assignment findings.  As the instructor, I constructed the criteria – write a paragraph and draw a concept map – with specific rubrics that dictated how and what was reported.  Students looked at the RSD framework and the idea that they could draw a mind map in whatever fashion they wanted as level 4 research.  The idea that they could draw a mind map however they wanted to was to them “freedom” and “independent” thinking.  The feedback that I received from students help me understand that students may have accurate but insufficient prior knowledge (pg. 18).  I will be asking students in class to continue to reason/think about the level of research the course assignments have in order to continue to get them to think about research.  I have also come to understand that for me it is very easy to see how my assignments align with the RSD framework.  For students this connection is, understandably, not as easy.  I will continue to refer to the RSD framework to help them build connections.

Another observation that I made as I was teaching was the need to connect this information to the students.  Why should they care?  So what?  Perhaps their silence is as much about not connecting the RSD with what they need/want to know and not due to a lack of understanding.  We talked about general education and the purpose of general education and the benefits of general education in an earlier session.  I don’t believe students are seeing the connections between general education, the research/inquiry process, and the rest of their lives.  This will be the next teaching/learning issue to address.  How do I make the RSD meaningful to the students at an introductory level?   We shall see as the semester progresses.

Ambrose, S. Bridges, M. DiPietro, M. Lovett, M., and Norman M. (2010).  How learning works.  San Francisco, CA:  John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Does our RSD project align with Institutional, College, Program, or Course Goals?

This semester we will be concentrating on our final projects at the assignment, class, and program level.  Part of our projects and IRB will include assessment.  In an attempt to be thoughtful about what and how we assess, it will be good to clarify the goals we might be trying to address.  Our next goal is to complete the IRB and get ready to assess our projects.  The first step in this is to figure out how our activities align to our assigned courses, programs, colleges, and the university.  Please complete the Goal Alignment Worksheet and submit it to this blog or to our off-line dropbox by our next meeting.

Comparing Action Research, SoTL, DBER

This semester has been an interesting journey.  As a teacher-educator I am helping pre-service teachers understand what “Action Research” is and help them integrate some action research strategies into their thinking and their portfolios that provide evidence of proficient practice.  As a university professor I am involved in multiple Communities of Practice.  The “Teaching Champs” CoP focuses on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and is led by Renee Howarton of the Nakatani Teaching and Learning Center.  I have also been involved in grant writing that focuses on Discipline-Based Research (DBER) and includes elements of SoTL and Action Research as a K-16+ stakeholders are addressed.  It has been interesting to see how the elements of all of these overlap.  I am sharing this link from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln that does a good job of comparing and contrasting  Action Research, SoTL and DBER.  Take a peek at:

Understanding by Design (UbD)

When we last met we were discussing how we might structure our lessons to thoughtfully address changes we might make in our courses and in instruction.  We are working to bring some education specialists into our next meeting.  I am also posting these resources for you.  It is “Understanding by Design” by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.  Please take a look at these resources:

I hope that you find these strategies helpful and it helps further the conversation in our RSD CoP.

Analyzing a Research Project: Insights

I did an analysis of the research project I am in the middle of completing for my Games in Education course.  I used a modified version of Byron Anderson’s analysis framework.  Here is what the analysis looked like and some of the insights.  There is work to be done!!

EDUC 210 – Original Analysis

Games in Education

Sylvia Tiala

Course Goal Mtg # & Item RSD Column & Row Student Action & Instructor Notes
Explain the educational/training use of identified video games and simulations 1.AFS Summit and Game Research – assigned readings over the course of several weeks as homework. Embark and Clarify

Find & Generate

Quiz given this semester after it was noted that most students did not complete the reading as there were not outcomes/consequences attached and no apparent reason other than the   instructor statement that “it would be important.
Analyze video games/simulations for their suitable use in education/training environments
  1. Current Researcher Assignment
Embark and Clarify In the past I have shared these in class. This semester I did not do this. In a weekly reflection several students asked for clarity regarding the relevance of the assignment.
Propose a research project that includes a literature review, a study design, and methods of assessing the use of video games and simulations in the educational or training environments.
  1. APA Format (APA format game & homework assignment) Research Question Developed (Online resources on how to develop)
Embark and Clarify I introduced the final research project assignment and indicated that the assignment would be “chunked”. We looked at APA formatting. Most students are familiar with MLA style. An assignment was given to identify a research question and write a paragraph on how it tied to major themes from the FAS 2006 Game Summit report. The process of identifying a research question was provided and discussed with time in class given for practice.
  1. Research Question

Annotated Bibliography

(response in D2L and in person)

Find and Generate

Organize & Mange?

Time was given in class and two days for processing a research question. Students were asked to post their research question to a D2L discussion board so that 1) I could help refine the question and 2) Make sure the question was focused enough to enable a viable literature search.
  1. Research paper
Organize & Mange

Analyze & Synthesize

I have done the research paper in the past and most were done well as an end product. The middle of the project is always a bit hectic.
  1. Peer Review on discussion board and grading by instructor
Communicate In the past I have just reviewed the papers so dissemination was not a part of the research process. This time I will consider having peers make comments or???

Overall insights from this process:

  1. Students are unclear about how this research endeavor ties to teaching/learning or adds value.
  2. I identified weak areas where I am not being clear – either with my students or in my own mind (What does organizing and management look like? Am I making the scaffolding clear to the students? Should I concentrate on only part of the framework? How do I get students to more clearly see connections between what I am assigning and how I want them to think?).
  3. Is this a viable assignment for the amount of time I have students engaged in this course?
  4. Is it time to re-evaluate, and perhaps update, the course?

A Research Question – The Hardest Part

After looking at Byron’s presentation I went and took a good hard look at what I was doing in my Games in Education course.  I had two projects that were supposedly “linked”.  Students were to make a game and connect it to education concepts discussed in the class.  The students were also asked to select a research topic related to the game they were making and tie the game, concepts in class and the research all into a connected understanding of how games in education worked.  So, one of the first questions I had to ask myself was, “Is this research?”  I think I will be starting my personal RSD framework decision matrix with this question.  The game assignment is designed to have students wrestle with educational concepts as they design a game – not an easy task and thus one of the points.  The activity serves as a great culminating task and an assessment but it isn’t research.  This left me with the research paper which also serves multiple functions.  One is for students to do a basic research paper.  The other is to integrate readings and information from the course.  I spoke to Byron Anderson about his model.  He expressed doubts that his model was sustainable in part because students had a difficult time generating their own research questions.  It was difficult for them.  I spent this week introducing my research project and I am more cognizant of student thinking at this point in time.  Along with the assignment to define a research question, I also gave students a survey asking them to identify questions/concerns related to the course that they currently had.  Student responses indicated that they are not getting the connection between the course content and the research paper.  To some degree the students are expressing doubts about its relevancy.  I did not introduce the RSD Framework to this group of students.  I just assigned the research paper.  Next time I will introduce the RSD Framework on some level.  I also saw what Byron expressed.  That is the difficulty the students had in generating their own research question. My strategy was having students post their research question to the course discussion board.  I then responded with suggested tweaks in wording, explain the null hypothesis, and suggested revisions to help students obtain a focus to their question.  There were library resources that helped and I spent one class period using these to have students identify the who, what, where, when so they could really get a “good” question started.  Students still struggled.  We spent the class period today starting a search with the library data bases and talking about annotated bibliographies.  I don’t think that I am going into enough depth and I am relying on students to go to posted links for additional information.  I am wondering about the approach I am using and whether I should spend more time on this assignment, chunk it differently, assign more scaffolded assignments, or just give them the assignment, provide support and hope they get it or ????   I am assuming that students have some background knowledge from their general education courses and are willing to visit online and library resources to pull this assignment off.  I need to really go back and focus on what elements I will require and what I am really  going to be asking students to complete.